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Friday, April 19, 2013

Costco employees, local businesses rally around Jeff Bauman injured in Boston blasts

NASHUA – Thursday morning was just like any other morning shift at Costco, with employees setting up the store in the early hours and readying for the day. Except for the fact that the absence of one dear co-worker, Jeff Bauman Jr., was on everyone’s minds.

That’s why floor manager Tim Flynn had his crew line up in the parking lot and spell out their friend’s name. Lying on the pavement, they lined up their bodies to spell out “JEFF.” ...

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NASHUA – Thursday morning was just like any other morning shift at Costco, with employees setting up the store in the early hours and readying for the day. Except for the fact that the absence of one dear co-worker, Jeff Bauman Jr., was on everyone’s minds.

That’s why floor manager Tim Flynn had his crew line up in the parking lot and spell out their friend’s name. Lying on the pavement, they lined up their bodies to spell out “JEFF.”

Bauman had both of his legs amputated this week following the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon finish line four days ago. He was one of more than 170 people injured in the devastating terrorist attack that killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy. Bauman, 27, is a Chelmsford, Mass., resident and commuted for the last three years to his part-time job in Nashua at the big-box store on Daniel Webster Highway. If there is one thing Flynn wants people to know about Bauman, it’s the first thing he knew when he hired him three years ago – his striking personality.

“I did his interview and I knew he was going to be an awesome worker,” Flynn said. “Unbelievable. It’s just the way he came off. He’s a very nice kid.”

Flynn said Thursday the store’s general manager has been visiting Bauman at Boston Medical Center everyday. Bauman is reportedly stable and not sedated.

Thursday marked the first day he was hungry and asking for food, Flynn said, and the general manager also showed him the photo of his co-workers in the Costco parking lot.

Some area businesses have rallied around the Bauman family this week, including The Bedford Village Inn and Nashua’s Pizzeria Maria, to assist with medical bills. On GoFundMe.com, the family raised more than $90,000 as of Thursday afternoon through the campaign titled “Bucks for Bauman.”

When the Bedford Village Inn launched its pastry donation event Thursday they were inundated with hundreds of requests. Though Sunday, April 21, customers can purchase a specialty chocolate and blueberry dessert called “Jeff’s Bag” with all of the proceeds going to the Baumans.

Jon Carnevale, general manager at The Bedford Village Inn, said he volunteered to help with donations because he remembers working with Bauman’s stepmother, Csilla Bauman.

“She worked with us for 15 years here at the Bedford Village Inn and she’s really a wonderful person and it’s just gut-wrenching to know what happened and what they’re going to have to go through,” Carnevale said. “Anyway we can make it easier for (the family) is the least we can do.”

Carnevale said his pastry chefs kicked it into overdrive Thursday to turn out hundreds of desserts. His business also raised a couple thousand dollars Thursday morning by directing people to the GoFundMe.com campaign site.

Dave Turner, of Pepperell, Mass., is a co-worker of Bauman’s at Costco who has also launched a GoFundMe.com campaign called “New Martin for Jeff Bauman.” Turner is requesting $3,000 to purchase his friend a brand new Martin guitar.

Turner was on vacation from Costco this week when he happened upon the horrific photo of Bauman circulating on the Internet after the bombs went off. The graphic image by the Associated Press shows Bauman being wheeled away by others with both of his legs missing. Most news organizations have opted to crop out the graphic portions of the photo.

Turner said he and Bauman work side-by-side at the Costco deli counter and have known each other for years. He said he was taken aback.

“If he hadn’t been the one injured, he would have been the one running into help,” Turner said. “He’s that kind of guy. He’d be the one helping out … It’s horrible to see him like this.”

Turner said in that moment, though, he was relieved to see Bauman’s hands were not injured, he said, because his friend loves to play guitar. On the fundraiser’s webpage, Turner writes how he and Bauman spent many nights in the backyard playing Bob Dylan and Beatles tunes.

“I knew as long as he can play guitar, I knew he would be OK ... ” Turner said. “I wanted to get him a nice guitar so he’s got something nice by his bed while he’s recovering.”

Maria Borino, owner of the news shop Pizzeria Maria, said she was so moved by Bauman’s story, she paired up with the Bedford Village Inn to help people with the donation process. Borino said for people who would like to stop by and write a check in person to contribute to the cause, they can drop checks off through April 30 at 295 Daniel Webster Highway made out to B.V.I. Fund Jeff’s Bags.

“I have been shopping at Costco for over 16 years and feel like the Costco team is a part of my family,” Borino explained. “In opening up a pizza place right next door (last October), I see most of the staff there daily. It breaks my heart to think that one of their own has been injured during the senseless tragedy at the marathon.”

Laura Therrien, of Litchfield, said she also was touched by the tragedy and she has been a loyal customer at Costco more than 13 years. In an email to The Telegraph, she said she has been in awe of the kindness of the Costco workers and the way they have pulled together to support Bauman.

“It was so emotional today in the office at Costco,” she wrote, after visiting their store this week. “(The staff) truly are like one big family there.”

Flynn teared up over the phone, recalled his time working with Bauman prior to the tragic events in Boston. He asked for people to pray for Bauman and said many continue to come in and ask about him.

“We have (Costco) members coming in here asking about him, all concerned,” he said. “They don’t even know him. That’s how it is.”

Samantha Allen can be reached at 594-6426 or sallen@nashua
telegraph.com.